Health Benefits of Smiling
When someone makes a clever joke, does something considerate for you or tells you good news, you smile. Smiling is an involuntary reaction to the positive moments in life — it also has a strong link to health and longevity with real short-term and long-term benefits. Believe it or not, you can improve your overall well-being by smiling and laughing more often.
As simple as it might seem, smiling can have monumental effects on you and those around you. Smiling sets off a chain reaction of complex physiological responses throughout your brain and body. Read on to learn about the many health benefits of smiling. They might convince you to try smiling more often.
What Does Smiling Do for You?
It’s easy to underestimate the power of a smile. When you smile, you might not even realize you’re doing it. It’s a spontaneous reaction to something funny, wholesome, impressive or exciting. Whether you realize it or not, the grin on your face is a scientific wonder, sparking significant chemical, physiological reactions.
Smiling has a positive impact on your physical and mental health. The reactions it ignites can make your body stronger and your mind more resilient. The simple act of smiling can have a real long-term effect on your attitude, heart health, immune system and social life. It can influence those around you, boosting your interpersonal relationships. A few well-placed smiles can make a significant difference in how you react to situations and how others perceive you. Smiles help alleviate tension, create social connections and support your health.
What Are the Benefits of Smiling and Laughing?
What smiling does to your brain and body is more complicated than you might realize. A smile can have a meaningful influence on how you feel in the moment and long afterward. Your facial expressions and emotions have a direct connection with your well-being. Signals of positive feelings, even without any real stimulus, garner positive health results. In that way, frequent smiling can make you a healthier, happier person. Here are some notable effects of smiling.
Boosts Immune System
One of the most important health benefits of smiling and laughing is a stronger immune system. Hearty laughing releases more disease-fighting T-cells from the spleen to the bloodstream. These immune cells also seem to be stronger and better prepared to stave off illness. In this way, finding the comedy in everyday life can make you better equipped to fight the flu and other illnesses.
Smiling is an effective stress reliever. Making a happy face releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin in the reward center of your brain. These chemical responses can trick your brain into feeling calmer and happier, even if you’re in a stressful situation. Research shows that your brain will not differentiate between a genuine smile and a fake one. This means you can make yourself feel better by faking it until you make it. In one study, participants who were smiling during stressful tasks had lower heart rates afterward. Even those who held chopsticks in their mouths to force a smile had an advantage, also showing a slight decrease in heart rate.
Laughing also helps relieve stress. An anxious response causes the muscles to tense, ready to spring into action. Over time, sustained anxiety may lead to chronic physical pain. Laughing can help reverse this effect. As you laugh, uninvolved muscles relax. Once you’ve finished laughing, the involved muscles also relax, making your body feel calmer and less tense. Additionally, laughing provides a momentary distraction from the source of your stress.
Provides Cardiac Conditioning
Yes — laughing is a workout. A good “belly laugh” can have the same effects on your body as jogging. Laughing boosts your heart rate and increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. After laughing, your heart rate decreases. Laughter provides powerful cardiac conditioning. In other words, having a good laugh from time to time will make your heart stronger.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Smiling improves heart health in other ways, as well. As mentioned above, even a fake smile can lower your heart rate during stressful tasks. This is great for relieving stress in the moment, allowing you to carry on with improved confidence and focus. It also helps you maintain lower blood pressure, impacting your long-term health. Because smiling and laughing relieve stress, they can lower your blood pressure over time.
Another effect of smiling is pain reduction. Smiling and laughing release neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. These chemicals have many positive effects, helping to relieve stress and depression, but endorphins also serve as a pain reliever. They bind to opioid receptors and inhibit your perception of pain. In that way, wearing a smile can help with pain management. The adage “grin through it” has real merit.
Helps You Stay Positive
Smiling can help you see the world around you in a more positive way. The flood of positive chemicals and amygdala response, the emotional center of the brain, makes you feel happier. Over time, if you smile more often, you may start to notice a brighter outlook on life. Studies show that, when it comes to emotion, you can make a real difference with conscious effort. Whether it’s the occasional forced smile or replacing anxious thoughts with affirming ones, you can create a more positive attitude.
Makes You Feel Good
The most immediate, noticeable benefit of smiling is how good it makes you feel. All of these chemical reactions and physiological responses have one simple, intangible outcome — you feel better. When you think of happiness and smiling, you might imagine a cause-effect relationship — a positive event occurs, you smile, and you feel good. However, psychological science says no positive event is necessary. You can make yourself feel positive emotions by mimicking a happy response. If you make an effort to smile or laugh more often, you can improve your psychological well-being.
How Does a Smile Affect Others?
When you smile or laugh, you aren’t the only person affected. Smiling, along with all its health benefits, is contagious. You can spread joy by emulating it. Smiling also changes the way people perceive you — it can make you seem more approachable and impressive.
Why Smiles Are Contagious
Smiles are contagious! This is more than a fun expression — it’s a scientific reality. Humans have an instinct for facial mimicry and a strong sense of empathy. When you see someone displaying physical signs of emotions, your face subconsciously mirrors those expressions. This reminds the brain what those emotions feel like, creating an empathetic response. This all occurs within milliseconds.
In that way, your facial expressions affect both your mood and the moods of those around you. When you smile, you can transmit feelings of joy, stress relief and other physiological benefits from your body to others’ bodies. This effect is so powerful that people who struggle with emotional mimicry feel a notable deficit in their social abilities. Those whose faces have been paralyzed by a stroke, for instance, note a lessened ability to recognize others’ emotions. Those who avoid eye contact due to autism or social anxiety note similar challenges.
Smiling as a Social Tool
Socialization is a complex process. Emotional contagiousness happens subconsciously and rapidly, but it happens. You can put those around you in better moods by smiling. This can be a powerful social tool — it might help you land a date or a job interview. In fact, smiling serves as a social tool in many other ways, as well.
How Others Perceive Your Smiles
It’s no secret that those who seem happy and joyful often score high in likability. When you smile, it affects how others perceive you. This can have a huge impact on your social standing, opening the door to opportunities or stronger relationships. Here are three ways others perceive your smiles.
1. Makes You Seem Trustworthy
Humans make subconscious snap judgments about the trustworthiness of those around us. Appearing more trustworthy can help you form and build stronger interpersonal relationships. Increased credibility can go a long way for your career and personal life. Several factors impact how we rate trustworthiness, but attractiveness and facial expressions are big parts of the equation.
Studies suggest that smiling can make you seem more trustworthy. Participants associated increased smiles with higher levels of trustworthiness when evaluating pictures of women. These results show a significant connection between trust and smiles. Grinning here and there might help you win others over by earning their trust.
2. Makes You Seem Successful
Picture two people — one looks frazzled, with a concerned look on his face. The other looks cool and calm, with a grin on his face. Who would you assume is more successful? A smile can make you seem composed and confident, even if you’re actually anxious. This is another way smiling can improve the way others perceive you. If you’re sitting across from a potential employer in a job interview, try smiling a little, even if you’re stressed. It can relieve some of your stress and help you come across as confident and successful.
3. Makes You Sound Friendlier
Smiling impacts how others feel about you — even if they can’t see you. The sound of your voice changes when you smile. And others can hear the difference. When you smile as you speak, you sound more friendly and approachable. You also earn the other social benefits of a smile, increasing your credibility, for instance. A smile can make your voice a more pleasant sound. Keep that in mind the next time you have an important phone call or presentation.
Smiling More Often Can Improve Your Life
Putting a smile on your face can make you happier, healthier and more likable. Smiling reduces stress by activating the reward centers of your brain, and laughing releases tension in your muscles. The brain chemicals released when you smile can also help relieve symptoms of physical pain. Smiling and laughing have long-term health benefits, helping you lower your blood pressure, strengthen your heart and boost your immune system. A happy facial expression makes you feel good — over time, smiling can cause you to become a more positive person.
In addition to smiling’s many physiological benefits, it also helps you achieve interpersonal goals. Smiling allows you to put others in a better mood. You can also come across as more trustworthy, successful and friendly if you increase the frequency of your smiles.
However, smiling more often might be challenging if it causes you to feel insecure. If you’re worried about what people see when you smile, this anxiety could undermine some of smiling’s positive effects. Before you can reap the benefits, you have to feel confident about your smile.
Boost Your Confidence in Your Smile
It’s vital to feel confident in your smile so you can start smiling more often. Dental services, whether preventive, restorative or cosmetic, promote smile confidence. Keeping up with your oral health is always important.
Maintaining a winning smile has a lot to do with preventive maintenance. Of course, you should brush and floss your teeth every day and limit your intake of surgery or acidic foods. It’s also important to schedule regular exams and cleanings, during which your dentist will catch early signs of tooth decay, infection, cavities or any other potential issues. A dental checkup once every six months can help you avoid major oral health concerns. This will allow you to keep your smile beautiful for years to come.
Existing dental issues might make you hesitant to smile more often. They can cause pain or embarrassment. If this is the case, consider addressing those concerns sooner than later, so you can get back to smiling. Whether you need a crown, bridge, denture, root canal or cavity filling, restorative dental care can make you more confident in your smile.
Many people are insecure about the alignment or coloration of their teeth. This could deter you from showing off your smile. When that happens, you might consider cosmetic dental services. A simple teeth whitening can have a significant impact on smile confidence. More complex services, such as veneer installation or mouth reconstruction, can make your smile feel brand new.
Dental services, whether practical or cosmetic in nature, can increase your confidence and help you smile more often. Take good care of your oral hygiene, and you’ll be equipped to enjoy the many benefits of smiling.
Contact Anderson Dental to Keep Your Smile Healthy and Beautiful
Wearing a smile more often can change your life for the better. It has physical, psychological and social benefits. You can use smiling as a tool to help you cope with stressful, painful or sorrowful situations. It makes you calmer, stronger and happier. You can also use your smile in social situations, displaying confidence, trustworthiness and friendliness. Perhaps best of all — you can spread all this positivity to others by sparking a contagious effect.
Showing off your smile, however, requires self-confidence. If you feel insecure about the way your smile looks, you might struggle to turn your frown upside down more often. To boost your smile confidence, maintain good oral hygiene. When you need a dentist in Payson, Arizona, consider Anderson Dental. Here at Anderson Dental, our oral care professionals offer a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. Payson Dental office to schedule your free initial dental exam.